TESTAMENT — The Ritual

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TESTAMENT - The Ritual cover
3.51 | 35 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1992

Filed under Thrash Metal
By TESTAMENT

Tracklist

1. Signs of Chaos (0:30)
2. Electric Crown (5:30)
3. So Many Lies (6:04)
4. Let Go of My World (3:47)
5. The Ritual (7:27)
6. Deadline (4:46)
7. As the Seasons Grey (6:12)
8. Agony (4:00)
9. The Sermon (4:41)
10. Return to Serenity (6:30)
11. Troubled Dreams (5:02)

Total Time: 54:34

Line-up/Musicians

- Chuck Billy / Vocals
- Alex Skolnick / Lead Guitar
- Eric Peterson / Rhythm Guitar
- Greg Christian / Bass
- Louie Clemente / Drums

About this release

Release date: May 15th, 1992
Label: Atlantic / Megaforce Records

Thanks to Stooge, Time Signature, diamondblack for the updates

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TESTAMENT THE RITUAL reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"The Ritual" is the 5th full-length studio album by US, California based thrash/heavy metal act Testament. The album was released through Atlantic/Megaforce Records in May 1992. It´s the successor to "Souls of Black" from 1990 and it´s the last Testament release to feature the "classic" lineup of Chuck Billy (Vocals), Alex Skolnick (Lead Guitar), Eric Peterson (Rhythm Guitar), Greg Christian (Bass), and Louie Clemente (Drums).

"The Ritual" is Testament´s most commercially successful album. The musical changes that the band made resulted in a more mainstream oriented and accessible heavy metal effort, although they haven´t completely left their thrash metal roots behind. Other contemporary artists like Metallica, Overkill, and Anthrax were also toying with more accessible musical directions, so it wasn´t unusual for the time for thrash metal artists to evolve and try something new. So the change in musical direction was definitely a conscious decision. If it was a desire for commercial success or it just felt like the right time to try something new I don´t know, but my guess is probably a bit of both.

The change in musical style is audible right from opening of the album. After the short intro track "Signs of Chaos", we´re treated to "Electric Crown", which pretty much sets the tone and pace for the rest of the 11 track, 54:34 minutes long album. Melodic (though still relatively hard-edged) mid-paced heavy metal with the occasional more thrashy riff thrown in. While the four preceding album releases all have a different sound there is still a clear stylistic red thread throughout that period of Testament´s career, so listening to "The Ritual" was probably a bit of a shock to a part of the band´s regular fanbase. The power ballad "Return to Serenity" earned Testament a charting single though, so it would appear that new fans were added to the ranks. Fans who either embraced the stylistic change or didn´t know Testament´s back catalogue enough to care.

It wasn´t just the musical style which was changed between "Souls of Black (1990)" and "The Ritual". The latter features a much less heavy and hard edged sound production to its predecessor, and although there are several thrashy riffs on the album, even those parts don´t really sound much like thrash metal, because the sound production just isn´t heavy enough to bring out the thrashy aggression (examples are otherwise pretty thrashy tracks like "Let Go of My World" and "The Sermon"). "The Ritual" has other things that are interesting though, and especially the lead guitar work by Alex Skolnick is stunning. He has always been an incredible guitarist and his contributions to the preceding releases by the band are considerable, but it´s like he is more at ease with the material on "The Ritual". There is a natural tone to his performance that oozes enjoyment with what he is playing. The rest of the band are also well playing, although Louie Clemente´s drumming sounds a bit "stiff". The restraint he has to put on his playing isn´t doing anything good for the final output.

So upon conclusion "The Ritual" is a bit of the "odd one out" in Testament´s discography, and they would soon return to more thrash metal oriented material on "Low (1994)". Despite the mixed reception among fans of the band, the band did enjoy some commercial success, and in that regard "The Ritual" must be regarded as a success. To my ears the material could have been more varied and hook laden, because not enough tracks stand out and the mid-paced rhythms and lack of aggression also quickly become a bit tedious (tracks like "Deadline" and "Agony" are downright unremarkable). It is an album which wins with repeated spins though, and if you leave behind your preconceived notions of what a Testament album should sound like, "The Ritual" is actually a relatively good quality heavy metal album and a 3 - 3.5 star (65%) rating is deserved.
Kingcrimsonprog
Testament are one of the best and most loved Bay Area Thrash Metal bands, bands from around San Francisco that started making music in the 1980s and have influenced countless artists with their thrashing riffs, twin guitar solos and memorable vocals.

While their first four albums were all straight up classic Thrash Metal albums, all varying in their levels of melody, speedy, complexity and heaviness; their fifth album, 1992’s The Ritual found the band making their one and only attempt to streamline their sound and make a more commercial record, in the same way that launched a few Thrash bands into megastar status and which killed a great deal more bands almost for good.

The Ritual was the last album to feature the classic line-up of Chuck Billy on Vocals, Alex Skolnick and Eric Peterson on guitar, Greg Christian on Bass and Louie Clemente on Drums; it was initially rather successful for the band, and may indeed have introduced a lot of people to Testament in the 1990s, but now isn’t often seen as a highlight of the band’s catalogue in the same way that their thrashier material is.

A fair few Testament fans out and out hate this record, so be warned of this fact before listening so that you don’t go in blind, expecting another New Order or The Legacy. When listened to with an open mind however, there is still a lot of worthy and interesting material present on The Ritual, and it isn’t altogether deserving of all the hate it can sometimes get.

No one could accuse the album of not being varied enough. ‘Electric Crown’ and ‘Let Go Of My World’ are Testament’s attempt to follow Metallica and Megadeth’s simplified, melodic, Thrash-meets-hard-Rock efforts of the time. ‘So Many Lies’ is a six minute long, repetitive mid tempo number. The Title-Track is a seven minute progressive number and ‘Return To Serenity’ is another track in the spirit of the previous album’s semi-ballad ‘The Legacy,’ while ‘Deadline’ is a very melodic and commercial number with an almost hair metal feel at times.

Throughout the whole album, there are lots of interesting riffs and impressive guitar solos as always from Testament, only this time the record is both a lot more multi-faceted than before, while still remaining musically stimulating.

If you want to listen to Testament to hear Thrash Metal, as is only natural, then this isn’t really a record you should pick up. If however, you like Chuck Billy’s cleaner voice, lots of guitar solos and don’t mind if the tempo dips more often than usual then pick up a copy of The Ritual and enjoy this one unusual moment in the band’s career.
Stooge
Testament, like many thrash bands of the time, took an album to streamline their sound into something closer to mainstream rock. The accessibility is evident through much of The Ritual’s material, but scattered throughout are still some thrashy songs, such as “Agony” and “Let Go Of My World”, though my favorite tracks here are the moodier ones that make greater departures from Testament's core sound.

By far, the standout track on this album is the wonderful ballad “Return To Serenity”. It’s one of Testament’s greatest tracks, and I’d rank it highly among ballads played by thrash metal bands. In fact, it’s so good that it often makes a great deal of the songs on the album less memorable by comparison.

The main quality this album lacks versus other Testament albums is in memorable riffing, with a few exceptions. On the other hand, Alex Skolnick’s lead playing, in my mind, is what gives the album most of it’s replay value. The energy level is lower than on the band’s thrashier albums, but this album has Skolnick playing in a style that takes a slight departure from the band’s earlier works. Some of his more memorable playing falls on the songs “Electric Crown”, “As The Season’s Grey”, and “Return To Serenity”, which at times reminds me of sax lines.

For an album with mainstream ambition, I have to add that the mix is often a bit muddy, and the vocals don’t always come through with clarity, especially in the faster songs. It also could use some more bass presence. It’s not bad enough to turn me off the album, but it could sound much better.

The Ritual makes for a solid, but not a spectacular purchase.

Members reviews

NJCat_11
This album is a return to serenity for all metalheads.

This has got to be one of my favorite Testament albums. Not only does it feature the clean vocals for which I loved Chuck Billy but this is the last Testament album to do so and feature the amazing Alex Skolnick. This album is very diverse, offering up mellow passages as well as the Thrash Metal goodness that made the band legendary. My personal favorites here are the title track, "Electric Crown", "As the Seasons Grey", and "Return to Serenity" (which features one the best guitar solos I've ever heard).

Very good album, especially if you like the early Testament.

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